View Comments
From catwalks to cake tins
From catwalks to cake tins

This is a story about sweet success.

It's about a little British girl who was adopted, who grew up to be very beautiful, was talent spotted at 16, rubbed shoulders with catwalk supermodels Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Kate Moss and Cindy Crawford in New York, but who still held on to another dream.

Lorraine Pascale has finished filming for her first TV series simply named Baking Made Easy - the title of her bestselling book.

The first British black model to grace the cover of American Vogue ("I was a 10-year overnight success," she jokes), Pascale learnt that hard work and determination brought reward. Years spent modelling for Chanel, Lagerfeld, John Galliano, Versace and Donna Karan, she says, allowed her to buy a flat in London and two precious years to discover "what made me tick".

It turned out to be cakes. Well, not just cakes but baking generally. It's not the stuff that supermodels naturally turn to but for Pascale it was the perfect fit.

"It's like looking for a home and walking into the perfect apartment. Or looking for that perfect pair of shoes and when you slip them on you know.

"I had tried interior design but didn't like technical drawing, I loved driving cars and tried mechanics but that wasn't it. I even tried hypnotherapy but I kept falling asleep. Then I found cooking."

A year-long food and wine course was followed by experience in top class restaurants - The Mandarin Oriental, Gilgamesh and Petrus. Even a stint with Gordon Ramsey didn't put her off.

Pascale, ever the perfectionist, then put herself through a four-year degree in culinary arts management at the University of West London. At the same time the cake maker was single-handedly raising her daughter Ella so she turned to creating her own catering business to make life more flexible.

"One of my first jobs was making 200 Christmas cakes for Selfridges and for 19 days I was in the bowels of the London store using their kitchens, baking, hand-icing and packaging the cakes. When they were all done I had to drive them to Birmingham. It was the best feeling ever."

The 39-year-old says her childhood challenges - being adopted, fostered out to families when her new parents separated and her mother fell ill - seemed to forge a determination that never left her.

"Some days were good, some were not so good, but I just had this thing in me - just get on with it and things will get better," she said.

"There were times setting up my own catering business that nearly broke me. I wanted to give up several times. But I just kept going."

Pascale was speaking from Sydney Airport on her way to the UK to make a second series, Home Cooking Made Easy.

There is no mystery to cooking, she says. "It's just practice. I am convinced anyone can do it, all ages can follow what I do in the show."

In Baking Made Easy, Pascale sprinkles the show with practical tips for baking sweet and savoury recipes.

There are old favourites and modern classics (with a few twists) but, most of all, this is about simple and delicious food.

A heads-up.

If you want to know the secret for great cup cakes it's equal measures of all ingredients, good quality butter and, when your cup cake is freshly out of the oven, brush it with your favourite fruit syrup or flavouring - lemon, raspberry or sticky toffee are two of her top choices.